Juanita Ridenhour

Wed, 05/09/2007 - 11:17am
By: The Citizen

Mother of the Year - 61+ winner

Our inspiration

Juanita Ridenhour

Submitted by Cecilia Taylor

My mom was born the seventh child of nine in 1917 to a South Georgia homebuilder (James) and his hard-working wife Alice. The depression happened and they moved to Florida in an old Model T, with seven kids, and a mattress and all other belongings tied on top. There they bore two more children and raised their family, built houses, ran a boarding house for the railroad workers, and became the centerpiece for summer vacations and Christmas celebrations for a house full of grandkids! She showed us that love takes sacrifices and spans many generations.

Mom graduated from high school and got on the train to Atlanta (against her mother’s wishes) and three years later graduated from Piedmont Hospital School of Nursing. The next 50 years she experienced and saw much at Piedmont, from Eddie Rickenbackers plane crash to the Winecoff Hotel fire, and was always ready at the dinner table with the days news from the hospital... surgeries, births, deaths etc. She and her husband, Marion, raised four children on Atlanta’s southside. (Al college graduates, all happily married only once, with wonderful children!) She taught us that intelligence meant to never stop learning.

She was the “nurse of the neighborhood” growing up. People we didn’t even know would come to our door asking her if she could take a look at their children’s cuts, rashes, nosebleeds, etc., and she never turned one away. She most always worked seven days a week (private duty nursing was like that) but dinner, home cooked and healthy, was always on the table by 6 p.m., always an extra place for a visiting friend or a hungry neighbor child. Clothing was washed on Thursday, and ironed on Friday evenings, after the weekly grocery shopping. Floors were mopped, dusting done regularly, baths scrubbed furiously, and those chores became a great and fun learning experience for the kids! She persevered to teach us!

As a nurse, a wife, and a mother, Mom literally saved the lives of more than a few. She healed our wounds, real and imagined, physical and emotional, without judgment, without harshness, with acceptance of our differences and fallibilities. She loved us unconditionally, as she still does to this day. She has kept an open mind always.

We surprised her in January with a 90th birthday celebration, with old friends, neighbors, coworkers and family from a five state area. It wasn’t easy, as you don’t pull much wool over Mama’s eyes. A grand day was had by all. This month she is planting flowers and shrubs in her yard, cooking big meals still for her family that comes a calling several times a week, takes care of her own home, works out at the gym, and watch out... drives herself shopping whenever she likes! She values her independence and encouraged each of us to follow our own paths.

Mama is our inspiration. We were such lucky kids. So it’s simple... there is no disputing, she is the best and should so be Queen for a Day!

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